Monday, January 18, 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Ecumenical Movement

After reading one of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, I admired him for his stand in support of the Gospel during Adolf Hitler’s reign in World War II. Bonhoeffer was a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism and a founding member of the Confessing Church. While the mainline churches were supporting the new Führer, he disagreed with the treatment of the Jewish people and the view of himself as “the new Messiah.” Later, his involvement in a plot by members of the German Military Intelligence Office to assassinate Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943 and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war's end.

A recent PBS special on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Third Reich changed my opinion of him. The report said Bonhoeffer was a supporter of the Ecumenical Movement. There was so much division in the Church during this time, and he felt the Ecumenical Movement would help bring the body of Christ back together. I’m not certain if he fully realized when he joined this movement that it would later come to assist in creating a one-world religion.

Bonhoeffer combined a deep grounding in his own theological tradition with a very ecumenical understanding of the consequences of his belief and the role of the Christian church. He embodied the spirit of the ecumenical movement; and its leaders became some of his closest friends and allies in the fight against totalitarian ideology.

His ecumenical activities began with an internship at the German congregation in Barcelona, followed by his studies at Union Seminary in New York City. Upon his return to Europe he attended several major European ecumenical conferences in 1931 and 1932. In 1934, at the age of 28, Bonhoeffer became a member of the governing council of the ecumenical World Alliance for the Promotion of International Friendship, a forerunner of the apostate World Council of Churches.

Bonhoeffer has been idolized by many modern-day Christian teachers, because of his writings on the nature of true Christian fellowship and the cost of discipleship. But there is something else that should be known. He was a religious humanist who denied virtually every doctrine of the historic Christian faith. He denied the deity of Christ; he believed that Christ is not the only way to God; and he had no faith in the physical resurrection of Christ.

If you study his life, you may find at closer examination that he wasn’t the mainline Christian we were lead to believe he was. I encourage you to do research to determine whether your denomination aligns itself with the World Council of Churches. Will you follow them when they merge to become one-world religion?

Bonhoeffer’s beliefs

~This article was in the Kindred Spirits Journal